News>Readers Respond – April 17, 2012 By Josh Mazer, Annapolis
Rathi Asaithambi’s April 11 op-ed advocating a federally mandatory vaccination policy with no exemptions (“Time to get tough on vaccine refusal”) is based on straw man arguments and ignorance of documented adverse effects of vaccines. There is no “anti vaccination movement” involved in a “lethal war” against children’s health in the United States. The largest quantifiable set of objectors to current CDC vaccine policy is pediatricians.
In 2008, the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, former NIH director, said on CBS Evening News that a “one size fits all vaccine policy is medically indefensible.” But that is what Ms. Asaithambi is proposing. Medical decisions ideally are made in consultation between patient and doctor. Are there any more medical procedures she wants the federal government to mandate, perhaps medically unnecessary vaginal probes for women seeking abortion services are next on her list?
Vaccines have obvious benefits as well as obvious adverse effects. Due to the latter, in 1986 Congress set up the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to arbitrate vaccine injury claims. More than 1,100 claims for irreversible brain damage have been paid out since 1986, according to a recent study by Pace University School of Environmental Law. How does Ms. Asaithambi reconcile the documented risks of mass vaccination with the Hippocratic Oath she will one day have to swear, in particular the centuries old, sacred, “first do no harm” portion?
There are a growing number of parents, physicians and scientists, among them Dr. Jon Poling formerly of Johns Hopkins, who witness negative health outcomes in children in temporal proximity to vaccinations, and who correlate injury to immunizations. The medical journal Pediatrics reported last year that of 311 primary care pediatricians surveyed on their attitudes toward alternative childhood immunization schedules (ACICs): “61 percent were comfortable using an ACIS if requested by a parent.” If Ms. Asaithambi wants her federal mandate, she better get busy convincing the 60 percent of her pediatric colleagues who disagree. Are these scientists, parents and doctors the “lethal” “anti vaccination movement” to which she alludes?
Properly administered, evidenced based childhood immunization policy is essential to positive public health outcomes. Policy makers must acknowledge and mitigate the documented negative outcomes attributable to vaccines. Mandating a uniform vaccine schedule for every child across the board flies in the face of medical evidence and will prove detrimental to some unknown subset of children.
Josh Mazer, Annapolis